Panzanella Salad

June 7, 2017

Eight and a half years ago, a twenty-one-year-old couple found themselves across the world making an attempt to explore every inch of Spain in two weeks. The flight into Valencia Spain arrived at 6:00 pm and although it wasn’t the case, it felt like we had been traveling for days. Once our friend, who was Wiley’s college roommate picked us up from the airport, we were off to explore. I remember thinking that the sun must stay awake for 24 hours in Spain because it seemed like the transition from day to night didn’t exist on that side of the world. We ate dinner at 10:00 pm and it was still daylight. I felt like I was in a dream.

We spent the next ten days walking miles and miles, taking in a world that wasn’t ours, and making some of the best memories. This was our trip into adulthood, Wiley and I had never taken this kind of vacation together: alone, out of our hometown, with no one else to turn to. At this time, Air BNB wasn’t a thing so with the help of our friend we had booked our hotels a few months prior in each different city we would be traveling to and had arranged our transportation to each place. I remember this feeling like a big accomplishment!

Once we settled in to Valencia we were so excited, we couldn’t handle it and just wanted to do everything, see everything, and eat everything all at once. If you remember, this was the time in my life when I chose not to eat most foods and was determined to stay in my own little picky-eater world. I decided that McDonalds, margherita pizzas and gelato would be just fine for me. Little did I know at the time that I was missing out on a whole new world, the world of international food.

The second night we were in Valencia we ate dinner at our friend’s house with his family. This was another culture shock; their evening meals are much different than ours. I appreciated most of it because they linger. They don’t keep track of time and they just allow the night to wisp you up and take you where it pleases. We started setting the table around 8:00 pm and didn’t take the first bite until a little after 10:00. I was HUNGRY! We hadn’t been 21 for long but prior to dinner there were lots of drinks being poured and discussions about how the summer nights in Spain are so good. We agreed but still felt a bit out of place, I remember finding it a bit difficult to completely settle into the thought of just sitting around the table for hours. Well, we did and it’s a night I will never forget.

Fresh fruit and vegetables made their way around the table throughout the evening. I didn’t eat tomatoes at the time but it was the staple of the meal. I had such a strong urge to try one but didn’t want to be embarrassed if I didn’t like it, so I just decided to pass it along. Now, when I eat tomatoes I am reminded of that late summer night in Spain when I was in between being a child and an adult and not yet knowing how wonderful food truly was.

Panzanella Salad


  • 1-pint mini heirloom tomatoes, sliced
  • 1 cucumber, halved and sliced
  • ¼ red onion, thinly sliced
  • loaf of day old bread*
  • 1 ½ tbsp. olive oil
  • ½ tbsp. Himalayan sea salt
  • ½ tbsp. ground black pepper
  • juice of half a lemon
  • handful of basil, chopped


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. To prepare the bread, slice and then cut into cubes. In a bowl toss bread, ½ tbsp. olive oil and a pinch of salt. Spread out on baking sheet and place in oven. Allow to cook for 5-7 minutes. Allow to cool for 5 minutes. This helps the bread to have an even texture on all sides and to become slightly crispy. If your bread is already pretty firm, you can skip this step but I love the flavor that this adds.
  2. In a medium bowl toss together the tomatoes, cucumber, red onion, salt and pepper. Drizzle with remaining olive oil and a squeeze of lemon. Stir until well incorporated.
  3. Once the bread has cooled, toss together with other salad ingredients and sprinkle with basil. Serve at room temperature or store in refrigerator in an airtight container for a few days.
  4. *I used rye bread because I like the flavor it adds but any firm bread will be great!

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1 Comment

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